Heat strain imposed by personal protective ensembles

Quantitative analysis using a thermoregulation model
The objective of this paper is to study the effects of personal protective equipment (PPE) and specific PPE layers, defined as thermal/evaporative resistances and the mass, on heat strain during physical activity. A stepwise thermal manikin testing and modeling approach was used to analyze a PPE ensemble with four layers: uniform, ballistic protection, chemical protective clothing, and mask and gloves. The PPE was tested on a thermal manikin, starting with the uniform, then adding an additional layer in each step. Wearing PPE increases the metabolic rates [Formula: see text], thus [Formula: see text] were adjusted according to the mass of each of four configurations. A human thermoregulatory model was used to predict endurance time for each configuration at fixed [Formula: see text] and at its mass adjusted [Formula: see text]. Reductions in endurance time due to resistances, and due to mass, were separately determined using predicted results. Fractional contributions of PPE's thermal/evaporative resistances by layer show that the ballistic protection and the chemical protective clothing layers contribute about 20 %, respectively. Wearing the ballistic protection over the uniform reduced endurance time from 146 to 75 min, with 31 min of the decrement due to the additional resistances of the ballistic protection, and 40 min due to increased [Formula: see text] associated with the additional mass. Effects of mass on heat strain are of a similar magnitude relative to effects of increased resistances. Reducing resistances and mass can both significantly alleviate heat strain.

Source: Xu X, Gonzalez JA, Santee WR, Blanchard LA, Hoyt RW. Int. J. Biometeorol. 2015.

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